Food, facilities management, and uniform services company Aramark announced today it will roll out Cool Food Meals 10 U.S.-based universities in the Spring 2022 semester, enabling students to make climate-friendly food choices.

The World Resources Institute (WRI) has estimated that in order to mitigate the worst impacts of climate change, the carbon footprint of the food we consume daily will have to decline by 38% by 2030. In 2020, WRI launched the Cool Food program label meals to communicate to consumers which menu options have a low carbon footprint, in line with food-related emissions levels needed to meet 2030 climate goals.

Jack Donovan, President, and CEO of Aramark’s Higher Education business said:

“We are excited to make it easier for students to identify climate-friendly choices on dining menus, with the addition of the Cool Food Meals badge. Reducing Aramark’s impact on the planet is a critical priority. Our own research has shown that 60% of consumers want to reduce their meat intake. Our 350 Cool Food Meals recipes use less beef and lamb, so we are meeting our guests’ desires, as well as making these items climate-friendly.”

According to WRI, animal-based food makes up two-thirds of all agricultural GHG emissions and uses more than three-quarters of agricultural land. Because plant-based foods have a lower environmental impact, simple dietary changes and consuming more plant-based foods can make a substantial difference in the climate.

WRI measured the carbon footprint of Aramark’s recipes to find items that meet the criteria of Cool Food Meals, based on the ingredients, and the land used to produce the meal. If the carbon footprint is below an established per-meal threshold and meets nutritional requirements, it is certified as a Cool Food Meal. Some of Aramark’s dishes that will be labeled include Mediterranean Falafel Plate and Five Spice Sesame Tofu Salad Bowl, among others.

 Edwina Hughes, Head of Cool Food at World Resources Institute, said:

“Young people are some of the loudest voices calling for climate action. With agriculture accounting for a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions, changing what we eat is one of the easiest ways to lower our personal carbon footprint and have an impact on the world. Students, faculty, and staff will now have an easy way to put their climate ambitions into action – whether that’s lunch after class, at a football game, or picking up late-night food. This is about helping people make climate action a simple and core part of their lifestyle.”

Participating universities include Arizona State University, Florida State University, Slippery Rock University, St. Bonaventure University, the University of California Irvine, the University of Mississippi, the University of North Carolina Wilmington, the University of Virginia, and Western Washington University.